The purpose of RITUAL: Benediction

  • Invocation
  • Drawing the circle
  • Taking the path
  • Numen/Connection
  • Breaking the circle
  • Benediction

And here we are.  We've laid down our pen, our brush, our cocktail shaker.  We're done. Calloo!  Callay!  We chortle in our joy.

Just as Invocation is as simple as making sure to flip the light switch on, Benediction is simply acknowledging you're done.

In addition to turning the lights off, you should probably throw in a little gratitude there, as well as a promise to return.  The universe likes that kind of thing. Might make it easier next time.  (Spoiler alert: it will not make it easier.)

Let's pull back and look at the whole idea of RITUAL again.

If you've stuck with this series of posts, you may be thinking that the whole thing seems a bit overwrought.  It sounds as if you need bell, book, and candle just to sit down and write a love poem.  TOO MUCH WORK!

The thing to remember is that this elaborate structure is not prescriptive: it is not saying that this is what you must do if you want to Make the Thing That Is Not, and that if you don't do it you will utterly fail in your quest.  Rather, it is descriptive: this is the structure of RITUAL whether or not you even know it. 

Now that you do know it, of course, you can make deliberate use of it.  Remember what our definition of RITUAL was?  A RITUAL is an action repeated over time or at specific intervals, the purpose of which is to provoke change in the artist or the audience.  That "change" can be as simple as "Now I'm working" or as complicated as "I will sell all my belongings and travel the country painting."

You can make any part of your creative process a RITUAL, large or small, grand or plain, special occasion or daily work.  It can be as simple as picking a time and place for doing your work.  It can be serious as a gallery opening.  It can be designing a wedding ceremony.  It can be your daily walk.  It can be cooking a meal.

It can be pretty damned impressive: every year, on or before the winter solstice, the Lichtenbergians have their Annual Meeting.  There is an Agenda:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Toast to Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  3. Acclamation of the Officers
  4. Corroboration of the Validity of our Claims
  5. Consignment of the Corroborative Evidence to the Flames
  6. Engrossment of the Year’s Efforts
  7. Meditation on the Year’s Efforts, followed by the Burning of the Coals & a Silent Toast
  8. Censure for the Betrayal of the High Ideals of the Society
  9. Engrossment of the Proposed Efforts for the Next Year
  10. Toast to the Proposed Efforts
  11. Topic

This RITUAL is the beating heart of The Lichtenbergian Society, because in it we must acknowledge our successes or failures of the past year, and we must "confess" what we would like to work on for the following year. Annually, we must face our peers and talk about our work, and believe me, you don't want to head into an Annual Meeting unprepared.

In fact, it is probably this RITUAL (and the existence of The Lichtenbergian Society as AUDIENCE) that actually created the enormous gains in productivity that, despite our joking commitment to TASK AVOIDANCE, led to the formulation of the Precepts and my efforts to proselytize for Lichtenbergianism.

RITUAL doesn't have to be as grand as our Annual Meeting, of course.  You can use it on a daily basis to make it easier to cross over that line into what Csikszentmihalyi called the flow state. By acknowledging that you're willing to get to work—Invocation, Drawing the Circle—you trigger your brain/soul to enter that liminal space where the words or notes or ideas come from. 

It doesn't guarantee success, of course; sometimes you eat the Minotaur, sometimes the Minotaur eats you.  But unless you open the door and enter the labyrinth—Take the Path—you will never encounter Numen, you will never make the Connection.  You will have a very hard time indeed Making the Thing That Is Not, and it's hard enough as it is.

Make it easier: draw that circle, take that path.